|Sun 6th April||Combined Service at Morley with Right Reverend Dr Alastair Redfern
|Sun 13th April||Common Worship Communion (Palm Sunday)||11.00am|
|Mon 14th - Wed 16th April||Prayers for Holy Week at Smalley Church (for both parishes)||7.00pm|
|Thur 17th April||Maundy Thursday Common Worship Communion with hand and foot washing at Smalley Church (for both parishes)||7.00pm|
|Fri 18th April||Good Friiday Meditation (for both parishes)||2.00pm|
|Sun 20th April||Common Worship Communion (Easter Sunday)||11.00am|
|Sun 27th April||Common Worship Communion||11.00am|
|Sun 4th May||All Age Communion
* Children's Church is always available at the 11.00am service.
St Augustine of Hippo said this, sixteen centuries ago, and it is a useful corrective to the idea that Christians are sour, disapproving people who want to stop anyone having fun. This month we celebrate the joyful feast of Easter, giving thanks for the Resurrection of Christ and the new life we receive from him.
But not everyone will be in the mood for celebration. At any time, some of us will be facing serious illness, bereavement, heartbreak, loneliness, disappointment, corrosive anxiety - any of a multitude of pains that make it hard for us to feel any sense of happiness or hope. At such a time, to be told that we ought to be joyful strikes us as a mockery of all we are experiencing, and can only make things worse.
If you are in such a dark place now, you may feel more in sympathy with the first three weeks of this month, when we are keeping the second half of Lent. At this time we journey with Jesus and his disciples on the road that leads to his death on the cross.
During these days we remember that Jesus experienced what seemed like a denial of all his hopes. The crowds who had flocked to hear his teaching melted away, people in authority who had always opposed him had him in their power, his closest friends deserted him, he felt the full force of hatred directed against him, he experienced humiliation and desperate fear, and eventually died painfully in the company of criminals.
Am I suggesting that all this misery could be in any way comforting? Yes, I am, and for two reasons. The first is that whatever suffering we may have to endure - and none of us knows in advance what that might be - we know that we are not alone. Jesus has been there before us, and has experienced in his own flesh the vulnerability of being human.
The other reason is that the crucifixion is not the end of the story. On the far side of suffering is resurrection, where sorrow and pain are no more, and every hurt is healed. On 20th April this year we may not be in a place where we can feel this joy, but we can rest in the hope that it is waiting for us in the end.
This Easter, or whenever we are able to receive it, may the light of Christ rising in glory dissolve the darkness of our hearts and minds.
Sister Rosemary, CHN